If Chris Kaman can stay healthy, he’ll be the best offensive center in Mavericks history.
That’s a big if, as evidenced by his triple-digit games-missed total over the last five seasons. And it’s also faint praise, as proven by all the praise about the pick-setting ability of bricklaying Mavs centers over the years.
Just for fun – and because we don’t have anything better to do with a week and a half before the Mavs open camp – let’s rank the best offensive seasons by a big man in franchise history. We’re talking solely centers, so Roy Tarpley, Sam Perkins and others who played a lot of power forward aren’t included.
Tyson Chandler, 2010-11: He understood his limitations and was phenomenally efficient, averaging 10.1 points while shooting 65.4 percent from the floor and 73.2 percent from the line. Chandler wasn’t a post-up threat, but he was a highlight waiting to happen as a pick-and-roll finisher. He’d knock down an occasional elbow jumper, but Chandler earned his keep offensively by setting rock-solid picks, finishing strong at the rim and creating extra possessions with his hustle and hops.
Sean Rooks, 1992-93: He was a bright spot during the darkest season in Dallas basketball history, averaging 13.4 points as a rookie for an 11-71 team. That ended up being his career high. He averaged 11.4 points the next season for a much improved Mavs team (13-69 – 18 percent more wins!) and then got traded to the Timberwolves. He averaged 10.9 points his first season in Minnesota and never came close to double figures again.
James Donaldson, 1986-87: He’s still the best big man who played more than one season for the Mavs. His best offensive season in Dallas came during his first year here. The 7-foot-2 Donaldson averaged 10.8 points on 58.6 percent shooting, one of five Mavs to average in double figures that year, led by forward Mark Aguirre’s 25.7 points per game. Donaldson also averaged a career-best 3.6 offensive rebounds per game.
Tom LaGarde, 1980-81: You’ve got to go all the way back to the Mavs’ inaugural season to find the highest scoring season by a center in franchise history. LaGarde lit it up for a career-best 13.7 points per game on 47 percent shooting for the merry band of 15-67 misfits.
Raef LaFrentz, 2002-03: Remember when LaFrentz’s perimeter shooting was going to pull Shaq from the basket and help pave the Mavs’ way to a title? Well, LaFrentz did make 40.5 percent of his 3-point attempts during his lone full season in Dallas. He averaged 9.3 points in 23.3 minutes per game that year – and gave up a heck of a lot more than that on the defensive end.
Erick Dampier, 2004-05: Dampier’s most productive season in Dallas was his first one, when he averaged 9.2 points on 55 percent shooting. He never averaged more than 7.1 points in another season for the Mavs, which is why he became the most overhyped screen-setter in NBA history.
Shawn Bradley, 1997-98: Do you recall Bradley averaging double figures (11.4 points per game) during his first season in Dallas? Thought that merited a mention, although it’s amazing that a 7-foot-6 dude shot 42.2 percent from the floor.